November 1st – at College Station           Texas A&M 24, Colorado 17

Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson was held in check for most of the afternoon by the Colorado defense, but one good quarter was all he needed. Johnson led the Aggies to three touchdowns in the third quarter as Texas A&M came from behind to edge Colorado, 24-17. The Buffs held the advantage in most of the statistical categories, including first downs, total yards, and time of possession, but three turnovers proved costly as CU fell to 4-5 on the 2008 season.

The Buffs’ offense, coming off a 58-0 shut out at the hands of Missouri, played well to open the contest. On the game’s opening drive, Cody Hawkins hit Demetrius Sumler on a screen pass on third-and-13. With the catch and run, Sumler chalked up the Buffs’ first 40-yard offensive play on the season, putting the Buffs on the Aggie side of the field at the A&M 43-yard line. From there, however, the CU drive stalled, and senior Tom Suazo, in now full time for Matt DiLallo at punter, pinned Texas A&M back at their own six yard line.

The Colorado defense, victimized for five opening scores in eight games, appeared willing to allow Texas A&M to make it six of nine, as the Aggies marched smartly out from underneath the shadow of their own goalpost. In seven plays, helped by a roughing the passer penalty called on senior defensive tackle Brandon Nicholas, the Aggies netted fifty two yards. On first down at the CU 42, though, Buff defensive tackle Curt Cunningham forced a Jerrod Johnson fumble as Johnson was attempting a pass to avoid a sack. Brandon Nicholas recovered the ball for CU at the A&M 43 yard line.

A little trickery ensued on the Buffs’ next drive, and it paid dividends for CU. On second-and-seven at the A&M 40, Cody Hawkins pitched the ball to Rodney Stewart on what appeared to be a sweep to the right. Stewart, though, stopped and threw the ball backwards across the field to Hawkins. Scooping up the lateral on one hop, Hawkins found tight end Riar Geer for a 23-yard gain down to the A&M 17. After an 11-yard run by Josh Smith on an end around set up the Buffs at the six, Rodney Stewart outran the Aggie defense to the corner of the endzone on the next play, giving the Buffs their first points since the second quarter of the Kansas State game – almost two full games without a score.

The Colorado defense next forced two three-and-outs from the Texas A&M offense, giving the CU offense a chance to pad the Buffs’ 7-0 advantage. Early in the second quarter, Colorado put together a 13-play drive which stalled deep in Aggie territory after a Josh Smith fumble resulted in eight yard loss. On fourth-and-13 on the A&M 29 yard line, the Buffs thought long and hard about going for a first down with the offense, but ultimately sent out the kicking unit. Aric Goodman, who hadn’t made a field goal since the overtime winner against West Virginia, made it 0-7 since that last success when his 46-yard effort hit off the right upright.

The Texas A&M offense came to life after the Goodman miss, driving to the CU 22. There the drive stalled, and, with 5:43 to go before halftime, A&M kicker Randy Bullock connected from 39 yards out to cut the lead to 7-3.

The next drive by the Buffs lasted six plays, but it took only four plays to give the CU offense a first-and-goal. On the second play of the drive, Rodney Stewart broke out of a scrum at the line of scrimmage, darting off towards the Colorado sideline. Stewart gained 11 yards on the play, and the Buffs were rewarded with a 15-yard horse collar penalty on top of the gain. The fifteen yards were of little consolation, though, as Stewart, the Buffs’ leading rusher (and well within striking distance of the Colorado freshman rushing record) was lost for the season with a broken right leg.

On the very next play, freshman running back Darrell Scott took off for the longest rushing play of the season for the Buffs. The 42-yard effort, which included a leap over defenders similar to the one Scott made against Eastern Washington earlier in the season, set up the Buffs at the Aggie six yard line. A four yard run by Demetrius Sumler put the Buffs at the two-yard line, but three of those yards were lost on the next play as Scotty McKnight was caught on a sweep back at the A&M five. On third-and-goal, Cody Hawkins lofted a pass for the back of the Aggie endzone, but the ball was snared out of the air by A&M’s Jordan Pugh, and the Buff threat came to a close.

The half was not quite over, though. A sack of Jerrod Johnson by safety Ryan Walters and linebacker Shaun Mohler forced an A&M punt, and a 31 yard punt return by Josh Smith set up the Buffs at the A&M 32-yard line with 1:11 to play. The Colorado drive, led by Tyler Hansen, got the Buffs as close as the 13-yard line, with Jameson Davis setting up for a 30-yard field goal attempt. Davis’ effort, the first of his CU career, was good, giving Colorado a 10-3 lead with just three seconds left in the half.

The first half score was Colorado 10, Texas A&M 3, but the Buffs were dominating. CU held the ball for over 18 minutes of the first two quarters, and had 218 yards of total offense. The Aggies, meanwhile, had less than 12 minutes of possession time, and had generated all of 76 yards of total offense.

Then the third quarter started.

On a beautiful 81 degree afternoon with little wind, there was no particular advantage for the Aggies in driving toward the open end of Kyle Field in the third quarter, but it certainly appeared during that stanza that A&M players were running downhill. Taking the second half kickoff, Texas A&M needed only six plays to navigate 68 yards to tie the score. A 32-yard touchdown pass from Jerrod Johnson to Ryan Tannehill knotted the score at 10-all with 12:02 still to play in the third quarter.

Colorado could not get anything going on their next two possessions, and, after a 19-yard punt by Tom Suazo set up the Aggies on their own 41-yard line, it took only one play for Texas A&M to take the lead for good. Jerrod Johnson connected with Jeff Fuller on a 59-yard catch and run to give A&M their first lead, 17-10, with 3:34 to play in the quarter.

After the Buffs’ third consecutive five play, one first down drive resulted in yet another punt, the Aggies took command. This time, the long gain came on the ground, as Cyrus Gray cut loose for 54 yards down to the CU 20-yard line. Three plays later, Johnson and Fuller connected again, this time from 10 yards out, and, as the third quarter mercifully came to an end for the Buffs, the huge scoreboard in the Kyle Field endzone read: Texas A&M 24, Colorado 10.

Despite playing behind an offense which hadn’t reached the 20 point mark in over a month, and even though they had been torched for 212 yards of total offense in just 15 minutes of play, the Colorado defense refused to allow the Buffs to fold. The first CU drive of the fourth quarter netted only 15 yards and a punt, but the Colorado defense gave the Buff offense the ball back on a three-and-out. After Tyler Hansen threw an interception on the very next play, the Buff defense nonetheless forced another three-and-out.

This time, the Colorado offense clicked.

Taking over at their own two-yard line, the Buffs put together one of their best drives of the season. Led by Tyler Hansen, the Buffs strung together an 11-play, 98-yard drive to pull CU to within a touchdown at 24-17. On the drive, Hansen himself carried the ball five times for 38 yards before Demetrius Sumler burst up the middle for a ten yard touchdown to give the Buffs new life.

The only problem with the touchdown drive was that, after consuming 3:26 of game clock, only 2:59 remained to be played. Once again, though, the Buff defense stiffened, forcing a third consecutive three-and-out. The Buffs’ offense took over with 2:29 to play, with the ball positioned at the Texas A&M 46 yard line.

A storybook ending seemed in the offing, as most of the 78,121 on hand shifted restlessly in their seats.

One play later, though, the Aggie Nation was happily heading for the exits, as Tyler Hansen was picked off on the only play of the CU comeback drive. The threat and the game were over.

24-17, Aggies.

“There were just too many missed opportunities in the first half,” said Dan Hawkins after the Buffs had fallen for the fifth time in six games. “When you leave too many things like that on the table, you know, it’s the age-old deal. It becomes a drain for your squad and it becomes a momentum deal for the other team.”

On the day, the Buffs accumulated 392 yards of total offense, a season high. The Buffs held the ball for over 34 minutes, and sacked Jerrod Johnson five times. Three interceptions, though, doomed Colorado to a fifth defeat, and all but eliminated the 4-5 from bowl consideration.

Up next is perhaps the Buffs last best chance at a win, with Iowa State coming to Boulder. The Cyclones are 2-7 on the season, 0-5 in the Big 12 after a 59-17 mauling by Oklahoma State. After Iowa State will be those same Cowboys, ranked 8th in the nation after the big win over ISU. The finale is in Lincoln against the 4-5 Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The Buffs have to win two of three to be bowl eligible.

On the heels of five losses in six games, that may be asking too much.

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